Sanford Meisner is one of the most esteemed and important acting teachers of the 20th century.
"He has been the most principled teacher of acting in this country for decades now, and every time I am reading actors I can pretty well tell which ones have studied with Meisner. It is because they are honest and simple and don't lay on complications that aren't necessary." - Arthur Miller
“Take it from a director: if you get an actor that Sandy Meisner has trained, you’ve been blessed.” – Elia Kazan
Sanford Meisner (August 31, 1905 – February 2, 1997) was an American actor and acting teacher.
In 1931 Meisner, Stella Adler, Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg and others, came together to establish the Group Theatre. The teaching was based on the revolutionary teachings of the Russian actor and director Constantin Stanislavski.
Meisner broke from Strasberg on the subject of "sense memory" or "emotional memory," where actors recalled a tragic, funny, etc. real event from their lives in order to get themselves emotionally involved. Meisner wrote, "Actors are not guinea pigs to be manipulated, dissected, let alone in a purely negative way. Our approach was not organic, that is to say not healthy." Meisner thought that the healthier option was to live truthfully under “imaginary circumstances” and he created a series of exercises for actors that became known as The Meisner technique.
After the demise ofthe Group Theatre in 1941, Meisner devoted himself to teaching, appearing only occasionally in films and on Broadway .
He was head of the Drama Department at the Neighborhood Playhouse from 1964-1990 and Meisner continued to train young actors right up to his death. He was 91.
We (Bryan Oliver and Eva Pope) trained under Meisner Teacher Jean Fennell.
Jean was not only an inspirational and gifted teacher but a very dear friend. Sadly she died in 2011, aged 59 and is deeply missed. We hope to honour her by continuing her teaching with our own added flavour!
Actors who have studied Meisner include Robert Duvall, Kim Basinger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Niomi Watts, Tom Cruise, Joanne Woodward, Steve McQueen, James Gandolfini, Diane Keaton, Jon Voight, Gregory Peck, Grace Kelly, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Bridges, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Jo Van Fleet, Peter Falk, Lee Grant, Tyne Daly, Joel Grey, Sandra Bullock, David Morse, Eli Wallach, and many many more. Also directors Bob Fosse, Sydney Pollack and David Mamet.